Our 5 Favorite Tire and Wheel Cleaning Products for DIY Car Detailing
You can spend all day detailing your car, but if you skip the tires and wheels, you're making a big faux pas. You wouldn't wear muddy shoes with your best suit or dress, would you? These are our top five products to ensure your tires and wheels are as spiffed up as the rest of your car.
CarGuys Wheel and Tire Cleaner
Road salts are the bane of your car’s shiny, healthy existence. They eat away at metal and paint, damaging protective clear coats and leaving behind rust spots. CarGuys environmentally-friendly wheel and tire cleaner is a car detailing dream. Specially formulated to be acid free, non-toxic and pH balanced, this cleaner washes away grime from your alloy, aluminum, anodized, chrome, painted, polished, clear-coated or plasti-dipped rims.
This Amazon best-seller has received rave reviews. “I have an M3 with massive brakes so break dust is a constant problem for me,” says one reviewer. “After hitting my rims with a power washer, spraying them with soap and then rinsing, I sprayed this stuff on my rims. Let it sit for a couple minutes (out of the sun) and rinsed it off with the power washer. You can clearly see the difference in my before and after pictures. I tried applying the spray only and I also tried scrubbing the rims after spraying and the results were very similar. This stuff works with or without scrubbing and I highly recommend it whether you have dipped rims or not. NOTE: The picture with the brake dust is AFTER power washing. So can see how ineffective washing alone is vs. using this spray.” Get your vehicle looking like new with these simple interior and exterior car detailing tips that you can do yourself.
Speed Master Wheel Brush
Cleaning your wheels regularly as part of your car detailing is imperative. Brake dust, made of brake pad dust and red-hot metal filings from the rotor, is a byproduct of braking systems in many vehicles. It’s present each time you apply the brakes. If you Allow it to build up, it will eat away at protective finishes.
“The Speed Master Wheel Brush may look like a big brush, but it fits in the smallest spaces,” says a car detailing expert for Autogeek. “Clean between wire spokes and even between the brake caliper and the wheel! The flexible bristles easily fold against the stem to a 1/2- inch thickness.” The soft, nonabrasive bristles feature nylon Nylex that ensures the wheels don’t get scratched.
Amazon reviewers love the brush, as well, with one person saying:
“I have a 2011 Volvo XC90. I have unsuccessfully tried so many wheel brushes. I had just about given up hope finding a brush that would thoroughly clean the wheels of my vehicle.
“THIS BRUSH WORKED!!! I am so happy I found this. Cleaning the wheels was so easy. I sprayed on my cleaning solution and ran the brush threw each spoke. All the brake dust and road grime came right off. The brush reaches the entire depth of the wheel. It didn’t scratch. I love this brush. I recommend it.”
Adam’s Tire & Rubber Cleaner
Over time, the rubber on your tires degrades, resulting in a brown residue on the surface. This is called tire blooming. If your tires are suffering from discoloration, Adam’s Tire & Rubber Cleaner will fix that. The cleaner provides your tire with a special blend of surfactants and cleaners to remove the brown, old and decrepit look from your tires.
Amazon reviewers can’t say enough good things about this product. “I have bought lots of goops and cleaners from Amazon,” says one person. “This cleaner is pro grade and works great for restoring tires that grayed from dirt and blooming. I followed the simple instructions, worked in the cleaner for maybe 30 seconds per tire and rinsed with a pressure washer. Michelin Premiers back to like new condition after.” Plus: Check out these other 100 car maintenance tasks you can DIY.
3M Mag and Aluminum Polish
Most cars on the market today have aluminum alloy wheels, made from either aluminum or magnesium mixed in with traces of other metals to boost strength. Polishing your wheels regularly will remove oxidation while it’s still just a surface problem. The major added benefit are wheels free of water spots and stains, while boasting a high gloss shine.
“3M Mag and Aluminum Polish easily cuts through oxidation, stains, and brake dust residue on the surface of the metal to clean and brighten mag and aluminum. Erase water spots, aluminum oxide, and corrosion and polish wheels to a brilliant luster. All it takes is a little elbow grease and 3M Mag and Aluminum Polish,” says Autogeek.
Learn more about how to clean and restore your car’s interior.
303 Products Pack Tire Balm and Protectant
Tire dressing rounds out the list for important products to consider during car detailing. Along with the obvious shine it provides, tire dressing is designed to help prevent fading, drying and cracking. Tires pick up lots of dirt, moisture and oils. Applying a tire dressing will help your tires withstand harsh conditions and exposure to harmful substances.
This tire balm and protectant from 303 offers a multi-layer benefit. On a clean tire, wipe one coat for a matte finish and then apply two or more additional coats for a shine that will last up to three weeks. This product is a water-based dressing with no oil or greasy residue.
One Amazon reviewer says:
“This is an awesome product! I bought it mainly for conditioning the older tires from our RV. Once applied it made the tires look like newer tires. So excited about the results I actually applied the protectant on all our cars’ tires. Since the RV tires were really dry I applied a second coat. Several weeks later I checked the RV tires and they still looked as good as when the product was first applied.” These are the 12 worst car tips mechanics have ever heard.
Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.